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Old School Marketing

Does using photos of yourself in marketing help or hurt your bottom line?

Real estate is notorious for using agent photos on business cards, signs, bus benches, billboards, and so on, but does this actually improve sales?



If you aren’t already a member of the Raise the Bar in Real Estate Group on Facebook, you may want to join the 10,000+ real estate professionals who are currently members. Among the random rants about real estate syndication sites, you can actually find some pretty thought-provoking conversations about topical real estate stuff.

As a result of a conversation with an agent at my brokerage who wanted to put her face on a sign rider, I thought it would be interesting to survey the group and get their input on using personal photos and signage. The question was simply this: Do you believe that a For Sale Sign or Rider should have the agent’s photo on it?

Should an agent’s face be on a For Sale sign?

I’ll share my 2 cents on the matter: When I moved back to California after living the first decade or so of my adult life on the East Coast, I noticed that it was very common for California agents to have their profile photos on the business cards. Initially, I thought it was a bit hokey. I also noted that most of the agents looked nothing like their business card photos when you actually met them face-to-face (think: glamour shots).

Because of this, I originally decided that the photo on business card was not for me.

Interestingly, in a 2013 comment on Facebook (Raise the Bar in Real Estate), Michael Maher (author of The 7 Levels of Communication) writes,

“As you grow your business and begin to network nationwide and global-wide, that one photo will allow them to align experience with memory, the ‘meeting you’ with ‘the information’ you really want them to have. Speaking around the world, I get a lot of cards. When placing a referral, writing a POWER Note, or reviewing who goes into our Referral Book, the photo helps me remember the encounter.”

To that end, I do agree with Maher and later I generated a business card with a photo for situations where I want to people to remember more than just my name.

The Finest Compliment

Truthfully, one of the finest compliments that I ever received was in 2010 when I met a fellow agent who had only seen me online and she told me that I looked just like my photo. I was thrilled. My photos online had achieved their goal—making me recognizable in the real world.

Agent Photos on Signs and Riders

Putting your mug on a For Sale Sign or Sign Rider in another matter altogether. Photos have no place on signs and riders (in my opinion). The sign and the rider are there to provide information on how to contact you. They are not about your sweet punim or your sexy logo. It’s about conveying information to sell a home in the most effective way possible. This also means that you should avoid using script and serif fonts. Additionally, you should make the phone number large enough for a quick passerby to see very clearly.

Scientific Data to Support Branding Without Photos

So, when I wrote up that thread on Facebook about photos, I was thrilled to see that most of the 80+ agents who shared their thoughts agreed with me. But, more interesting was the somewhat scientific data.

Marc Davison, currently of 1000Watt Consulting, shares the following study of photos and advertising conducted prior to April 2013:

We did user surveys with 1871 people across 3 different age demographics asking several dozen questions about agent branding and marketing. For each question, there were 4 possible responses as follows:

– “Positively impacts my decision”
– “Marginally impacts my decision”
– “Has no Impact on my decision”
– “Negatively impacts my decision”

Without getting too detailed, when it came to agents photos on a business card, of the 1871 people surveyed, more than 95% of the respondents answered “Has No Impact all the way to Negatively impacts my decision.”

This was across all 3 age groups.

As for the market testing, 2000 direct responses were sent to 2 test mailing lists, each list receiving 1000 each. Both cards were identical except for one element—1000 of the cards had a photo of a pretty attractive person that one would assume to be an agent, and the other 1000 did not have that photo.

Of the 1000 that had the agent’s photo, zero leads were generated. Of the 1000 that did not have the agent photo, around 15% of the recipients responded. 

Read: Better Response With No Photo

Ultimately, the call as to where you should plaster your personal photo is entirely yours to make: Should your photo be on your business card? Should it be plastered on your sign? Should it be present in your direct mail marketing materials?

Pick your poison. Generally, data and stats don’t lie. Data tells a story that helps us do our jobs better and be more successful each and every day.

Melissa is an in-demand business success speaker and author, as well as a real estate broker with thousands of short sale transactions under her belt. She leverages her experience as a short sale insider to motivate thousands of business professionals to plan their careers better, execute more effectively on their plan, and earn more because of it.

Old School Marketing

The simple question technique that will help you convert more sales

(MARKETING) Will you read this article? According to the latest research, if you got as far as reading that question, the answer is more likely to be yes



Handshake between two people representing networking representing the question technique.

Will you read this article? According to the research, if you got as far as reading that question, the answer is more likely to be, “yes.”

The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that asking someone a question about a behavior made much more of an impact than telling someone what to do.

Just asking someone a question about a behavior increases the likelihood that they’ll do it.

It’s called the question-behavior effect. According to lead researcher, Eric Spangenberg, the question-behavior effect is most notable when the question encourages behaviors that are already socially celebrated. For example, will you try to eat healthy in 2016? Will you exercise today?

Exactly why questions are more effective than statements remains unknown, but it probably has to do with the mindset of the answerer. If someone tells you, “you should volunteer for this charity” you are more likely to bristle at being told what to do, rejecting the authority and advice of an outside opinion.

But when asked, “will you make a donation?” even if you don’t answer right away, you become more open-minded to the possibility.

Your options become expansive, rather than set, which makes you feel empowered and self-confident that you can make a positive decision for yourself.

The study also found that the effect was strongest when questions were administered through a computer or on paper, rather than orally, and when the question called for a direct “yes” or “no” answer. Perhaps having to type out or write down an answer made people feel more accountable to following through with the behavior.

Could you use the question-behavior effect to improve your business? (You see what I did there?) Asking an employee, “will we see your report in time for the deadline?” may just increase the chances that you will. And perhaps asking if your customer wants to purchase your product will put them in an open-minded state to say yes.

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Old School Marketing

MailSnail helps you quickly design, send, and manage direct mailers

MailSnail is a new startup aimed at simplifying your direct mail campaigns and allowing a new level of customization; worth checking out.



Although most companies have abandoned direct mail for more cost-effective email, you shouldn’t discount this valuable tool (most Realtors don’t). The majority of the people that get emails don’t actually open them or spam filters snag your email before it ever reaches the intended inbox.

While direct mail is more expensive than email, it still works. Direct mail allows you to reach high level customers and prospects that don’t open emails. It also helps reinforce your email message and reminds your customers of the offer you may have emailed them. Plus, with fewer people using direct mail, you’re better able to stand out among your competition.

Direct mail simplified

However, direct mail is complicated. Many factors contribute to its success or failure, which makes it difficult to do effectively in-house. This is where new company MailSnail comes in. The startup takes the hassle out of direct mail. You don’t have to worry about finding a designer, a print-house, a mail-house, or even customers. MailSnail takes care of it all for you from their easy to edit design templates, to printing and delivery of your custom mailer.

MailSnail lets you craft your mailers to your specific needs. You can choose one of their templates and add content to create a custom mailer that fits you. You can also upload your own design.


Schedule ahead of time, customize fully

MailSnail also lets you schedule your mailers ahead of time, so you can send your direct mail when you need. Other features the company provides is the ability to segment your customers for easy management and send geographically targeted mailers to new potential customers.

The startup also touts their ability to send a mailer to any size audience. Send your customized mailers to thousands of addresses or only a handful – it’s completely up to you.

MailSnail gives you the power of direct mail without the hassle. While the startup hasn’t officially launched, if you’re interested in trying the service, you can sign up on their site to get beta access.


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Old School Marketing

There’s still one reason people look at newspaper ads; is your brokerage meeting their needs or ignoring them?

Most think the printed newspaper is on its way into extinction, but many wallet-holders are still flocking to newspapers, but why?




We’re living in the digital age, so more likely than not, your business is relying heavily on internet marketing, leaving behind those old newspaper advertisements.

But wait, not so fast. According to the latest marketing research, there may still be some value to providing discounts and coupons via local newspapers. An August 2015 study by found that newspapers are still the most popular source for discounts and coupons amongst price-conscious consumers.

They found that 37.7 percent of female respondents, and 30.1 percent of male respondents cited newspapers as their go-to for finding discounts and coupons, compared to the internet, snail mail, email, or direct offers from banks and credit cards.

Breaking the stats down by age

However, the picture becomes a little more complicated when you break down the statistics by age. The study revealed that consumers ages 18 to 49 are mostly getting their discounts from the internet. Youngsters under age 34 are also more responsive to coupons in their mailboxes than to newspaper coupons.

For all respondents over age 49, on the other hand, newspapers were their first source for coupons, leveling out the average such that newspapers still rank number one when all age categories are combined.

A similar August 2014 study by Valassis, a direct mail marketing service, found less variation across age groups, with millennials, gen Xers, and baby boomers all stating that they used paper coupons far more than digital ones.

Gender and income influences

Shoppers with higher incomes don’t seem to worry much about finding coupons and discounts, whereas lower income shoppers rely on them heavily.

Nonetheless, the study found that 30.6 percent of female internet users use coupons when shopping for their day to day amenities. That’s nearly twice as much as men, of whom only 16.8 percent use coupons regularly.

An overlooked opportunity?

In short, it appears that supplying discount offers and coupons in your local paper may not be such a bad idea, especially if your customer base is largely female, and over the age of 50.

While advertising a multi-million dollar listing may not yield results, inserting a coupon for a free analysis or an offering to waive $500 off of closing costs, could be a tool your competitors are ignoring. Time to open up a newspaper to see if there’s opportunity for your brand.


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